Sunday, October 23, 2016

The one with the chipmunk

Every day is a laundry day. Nine people in the house makes for a LOT of clothing. Because the washer is in the basement, her children can just drop their clothes down the laundry shoot. The Laundry shoot makes the pile of laundry look like Mt. St. Helens made of fabric. Ceiling to floor of dirty blankets, pants, shoes, towels, stuffed animals, and just about anything else you can imagine.

Sunday afternoons are a great day to just run the laundry. Load after load she marches baskets up the stairs. After a several loads it was easier to dump the laundry on the floor. She hadn't started folding yet, but her and her husband could work on that after they managed to get kids in bed.

During this time of drowning in laundry a friend popped in to chat. While sitting amongst the laundry hills talking Father looks at the door, "Um...a chipmunk just walked into our room." Mother didn't see it and was skeptical at first. "Yeah, it just ran into our closet."

The friend pipped up, "I just heard something behind me."

How? And WHY?!?! Several boys came bounding down the hallway, "Did you see the chipmunk?!?" Well that explains it. However it got into the house it was only one of 5 reasons. Boys. Mother began frantically taking clothes off the floor and throwing them on the bed. Not caring if they came from the clean piles or dirty piles.

"Where did it go?!" she asked her husband. He began taking his flashlight and shining it in the closet. Nothing behind the toolbox, nothing behind the gun case, nothing behind the small dresser. If it didn't go into the closet, the only other place was......under the bed.

When she made her bed, mother thought she was being so clever. "Oh we don't need a bed frame. We have lots of food storage that needs a place to go. Lets just put the number 10 cans under our bed to raise it up." Plenty to raise it up, but not enough to cover the entire underside of the bed. Plenty for supports with cans spaced several inches apart, but not enough to see if there was a devil rodent hiding underneath it. Oh yes, by all means, be prepared...but however much you think you have prepared, YOU ARE NEVER PREPARED! Who the heck is prepared to chase a chipmunk out of their house?!?!

This calls for a different tactic. Mother finds a broken handle off one of the brooms a little boy had used for a ninja fight. Her friend gets on the other side of the bed with the flashlight. As mother kneels down beside the dresser she knocks it slightly. Something darts out of the corner of her eye and rockets off her leg. After a girlish yelp and jumping into the air several feet she looks down. A stupid, blue, ball point pen had rolled off the dresser and lightly bounced off her lap.

The room erupts into laughter. The friend, and the husband are laughing uncontrollably, and mother is laughing and crying. No one knows if the crying is from laughing so hard, or from being scared so bad by a ball point pen.

"Oh dear," Says her friend through bouts of laughter. "I think that is my queue to head home. If you find the chipmunk let me know. It'll probably be on your face in the middle of the night." She chortles. "I bet you never thought you'd have to find a chipmunk before you could go to bed." snorting as she laugh she waves goodbye and heads home.

"Don't worry dear," Said Father, "While you were looking under the bed I went online. Apparently there is a whole group of people who have had this problem before. They said just leave the doors open, most chipmunks don't want to be inside and will find there way out."

Oh great....most. With my luck we get the one percent of chipmunks that loves the feel of laundry and wants to bring over his friends. Leaving the back door open she winces. She tells herself it's all in her head. She never saw it come in, maybe it wasn't even there. She thinks about sleep, maybe she'll go sleep with the two year old tonight.

Friday, October 21, 2016

The night mom got caught up.

It was late in the evening. All the children had been put in bed....several times. Mother was laying in bed just trying to sleep. Father was snoring next to her. Unfair, she was always the first one asleep. Oh how she envied him, being able to snore. Was this what it felt like to be him? She tried every trick she had ever known to get herself to sleep. And there he sat, totally dead to the world.

Her husband had told her what it was like, not having your mind stop for anything. And no matter what she tried she couldn't get to sleep. She had always told her kids that they just didn't stay in bed long enough and that was why they couldn't sleep. She had laid in bed for three hours without feeling drowsy. Three hours was long enough. She heaves a sigh and decides to go check on their backyard chickens. They had lost two of them in the past few months. Maybe if she walks around a bit she will get tired....nope.

Chickens were secure, she went in the kitchen. Or as she liked to call it, the landfill. There was always crumbs on the floor. Do normal people have kitchens like this? Table was covered, floor was sticky, sink was full, dishwasher was....oh look, clean dishes. She decides that won't take too long and maybe she will be tired afterword. Dishes get put away, and before she can stop herself she has reloaded the dishwasher, done the extra dishes, showered the kitchen and squeegied it out the back door, organized her cabinets, and completely re arranged her appliances and table. It was now 3:00 in the morning.

Mother shrugs, the kitchen is sparkling, she still isn't tired. Such a strange feeling. She is usually the one who could fall asleep in the middle of the day if she wanted. Oh well, she decided to go to the front room. Business as usual, toys, clothes, crumbs, and wet pannies littered the floor. Before she could stop herself mom was at it again. Everything cleaned and vacuumed, then she pulls out the couch and vacuums under it. That wasn't too bad, she decides it was time to rearrange the front room as well. With the couch out of the way it wouldn't take too long to move the piano to the other side of the room. She just had to be careful, on account of one of the piano legs being missing.

It's now 5am. The front room is pristine. The piano had been on that wall since they moved in to the house 5 years ago. Moving it revealed the cleanest wall in the entire house. Simply beautiful. Now all the dirty walls were behind the furniture and she could just drink in the cleanliness of this beautiful plain, spotless wall. Her husband was going to want to mount a tv there now that there was nothing on it. Tragic really, to put holes in the one magnificent wall left in their home.

After reveling in the cleanliness she decides it isn't worth it to even try going to bed anymore. Everyone would be up soon, so she keeps going. Starting the laundry and picking up every bit of laundry off her bedroom floor. Her room didn't take long, she had to do it in the dark, but it was just a few clothes and some trash. She knew her bathroom still needed work. Just the standing shower. She had put off cleaning it for the longest time that it had begun to have soap streaks and mildew buildup. This will take more heavy duty equipment. Time to sacrifice her mechanical toothbrush.

She didn't even think twice. With a good cleaner and the motorized toothbrush she made short work of cleaning the tile in the shower. Still kneeling in the shower, still not tired, the bathroom door opens. Her husband sleepily pokes his head in, "Hello? How long have you been awake?"

Eyes wide open, and a giant goofy grin on her face, she replies that she hadn't slept yet. "The cleaning fairy finally visited...SEE. She even organized our kitchen cabinets and rearranged our furniture." her husband shakes his head in disbelief. Being the good wife she is, she makes him go look at all the work she has done. "This is the part where you ooh and awe at my handy work." She queues him. "Say things like, wow wife, this looks awesome. Or, oh yes, this is beautiful. I love the not sticky floors." He laughs, "no really husband, tell me I'm awesome."

He hugs her, "You did wonderfull sweetheart. And now I'm going to stay home from work. You are not going to be able to stay awake today." Well that wasn't the plan. She did all of this because she couldn't sleep. With her assurances, she manages to convince him that she can handle the day and gets him off to work. All while she turns on netflix for the kids and sinks deeper and deeper into the couch. "Goodnight wifey."

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The one where it was all yellow

Saturday evening, a time when most families enjoy the afternoon together. Playing games, watching tv, going on walks. But when you are a mom of 5 boys who need white shirts cleaned and pressed for church at 9 am, the frolicking only lasts till about 6pm.

Dinner, and kids scrubbed. Then scriptures and prayers. Hoping for a quiet night, mother begins laundry. She gathers up all of the sunday pants and the 2 little girls dresses. It's no wonder she has gone through 4 machines in the past 9 years. Some boys are in-between sizes so she washes them 2 or 3 pairs hoping that one of them will fit.

The evening progresses and Mother has collected everyone's shoes and socks and placed them in the front room. She has vowed to herself that this Sunday, they will be on time.  She changes the laundry, putting the pants in the dryer and begins to collect shirts. She would not miss one single shirt this Sunday. Last week a few children went in just collared shirts. It was an acceptable alternative, but Sunday best meant the white shirts with ties.

It took longer than she thought to collect the shirts. Mostly because she had to change the 2 year olds pants 3 times. The two year old had potty trained herself, and then decided it wasn't worth the effort.
"Get back in bed!" her catch phrase. Maybe someday someone will make an action figure of her. Action figure mom, complete with 3 cool catchphrases, "Get back in bed!" "Shut the door!" and "Don't touch that" Oh yes, it will sell millions. She wipes up pee off the floor for the third time, and puts the toddler back in bed.

The table still needed to be wiped up. After wiping the table the floor needed a sweep again. Before she knew it the dryer was going off. Mother didn't even get the white shirts in the washing machine yet. It was already late, she decided to start the white shirts, hang up the sunday pants and go to sleep. She knew that the whites would be ok in the washer for a few hours. if she just woke up an extra hour early she could run them in the dryer and they would be warm and wrinkle free just when the boys were ready to get dressed.

Sleep came easy, she just knew the morning was going to go well. At 6am the alarm went off and she trudged down the stairs. Impressive how a mother can make it down a flight of stairs with no landing, change a wet load of clothes to the dryer, get it started and head back to bed without waking up too much. Mom level achieved. She sleeps for another hour and wakes up to get the shirts out of the dryer before they wrinkle.

Mother turns on the lights in the laundry room and beings to empty the dryer. Taking out the first shirt she spreads it out to put it in the basket without it wrinkling. At first she thought it was just flecks of light in her eye. Maybe she was too sleepy. She rubs her eyes again, isn't possible. Yellow, yellow spots all over that white shirt. She pulls out another and inspects it. Nothing could be more cruel than this. A heinous, yellow, crayon of carnage, had made its way into the dryer. Shirt after shirt she pulls out, and finds yellow stains on

Some shirts only have a stain on the stomach, others are completely unsalvageable. Curse the one who invented crayons. How did it even get in the dryer. It was all SHIRTS. Then, the realization comes. All shirts, every last white shirt they owned was in that dryer. Father had 2 in his closet, at least he will be alright. She brings the basket of ruined shirts upstairs and slams it on the floor of their bedroom. Father wakes up, "What's going on?"

"All of them, I ruined EVERY LAST ONE." mother laments, "It's all over the collars, the sleeves, this isn't even salvageable." She lays face down on the bed. Father puts his hand on her shoulder. Every last shirt they own now looks like a yellow splatter painting, she was just trying to be on time for church once. Trying to do something good and ruining level achieved.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The one where everything is normal.

It started out like a normal day. Waking up to Daddy getting ready for work, then going and waking up the 2 babies so they can go to the bathroom, without wetting the bed. No one had any clothes leftover. Mom had been so busy trying to get the back yard fixed up that the Laundry never got finished. The clean piles of laundry had all been rummaged through and everything was now dirty again.

Mom put on her same clothes that she had worn the day before. Then they said their morning prayers and sent Dad off to work. She re-started the load of laundry in the washer and came back upstairs. Now it was time to get breakfast on, Mom had planned on making cinnamon rolls, but the kids beat her into the kitchen and were already munching on crackers and cereal. Just like a normal day.

The kitchen was at that point again. Covered in children mess, it was time to mop again. The way she normally the kitchen a shower. She turns the sink water on as hot as she can get it. Using the sprayer she douses the ENTIRE kitchen. Walls, table, and floor. She grabs the stiff bristled broom, the one with the wooden handle. Its the only handle that hasn't been broken from being used as a dueling stick. Today, she didn't even bother to sweep. All of it was food, biodegradable. So, once the kitchen was thoroughly wetted, she began to scrub the table...with the broom. Like normal.

Egg, why was there always dried egg in the kitchen? She grabbed the metal BBQ spatula out of the grilling drawer, every normal persons first choice for cleaning their kitchen, and began to scrape up anything that wouldn't just wash away with water. "MMMOOOM! I'm hungry!" It was only 10am, they had just eaten. She told him that it wasn't time to eat yet, "Well, is there a snack I can eat? What can I have right now?"

"Son, have you SEEN this kitchen? How could you want to eat in this mess?!? You can wait until lunch. I have a lot to do, go clean your room."

"Ok, but can I just have an apple?"

Mother walks over to the sink and grabs the sink sprayer, "Run." She tells him. This was the normal courtesy warning before dousing a child with sink water. By the time she turns around, he has vacated the kitchen. It wouldn't have been the first time she sprayed someone in the house. Her children always understood actions better than words.

Alone again, she returns to scrubbing and scraping. Once everything crusty has lifted off the floor, she takes their one good broom handle and unscrews it. She locates the giant squeegee head and attaches the broom handle. Pulling open the sliding glass door as wide as she can, she continues her normal routine... to squeegee everything out the back door. Then she squeegees the crumbs, chocolate chips, dried shredded cheese, and stale rolls, off the porch and into the grass. The kitchen is sparkling, mostly because it's all got a shine of wetness to it, but she decides to ignore that fact and revel in the imaginary clean.

"Ok kids! You can come in for lunch now!" The stampede of boys races to the kitchen.

"What did you cook?" one of the boys says.

"Cook?" The mother says in disbelief. "I didn't cook anything. I cleaned the kitchen so you could eat in it! What you eat is up to you. Pull out some leftovers or make a sandwich." She leaves them to their own abilities and goes to retrieve the girls. Slowly pushing open the door to their room she finds that their sliding closet doors have been knocked off the rails again. The beds are pushed into the middle of the room and every toy is out and covered in saltine crumbs.

She rolls her eyes and steps in the room, hearing a splash she looks down, "Ew...that better be water." She knows better, it's NEVER water. It's the normal wet puddle on the floor. She grabs the dirty pillow case on the floor right as the youngest boy walks in. He watches her clean up the "liquid."

"MOM! Don't clean up pee with my pillow sheet!" He begins to cry.

"Son, it was already dirty, but I'm sorry. I'll throw it in the washing machine." Which normally means it won't be done for a week. That pacifies him enough, but his lip still quivers. "You need to go eat lunch with your brothers, take the girls with you. Then we can give you all a bath." By the time mother finishes putting the girls room back together the kids have finished lunch. She can hear them playing in the back yard. Hallelujah for trampolines, the normal choice for after lunch.

She goes downstairs to change the laundry. The load that she thought she had restarted was in the dryer...wet. Confused she examines the laundry in the washer. Its all boys blankets. They tried to do laundry but forgot to start the dryer and forgot to change it. The normal and familiar eye rolling starts. She takes the wet load of her clothes out of the dryer and throws them on the floor. Supposing she didn't really need clean clothes because she never left the house, she started the little boy blankets in the dryer. She dumped a laundry basket full of clothes into the washer and starts it, and only then remembered that HER laundry was still on the floor wet. Normal eye roll. Somedays it felt as if her eyes were just rolling unencumbered within her head. Heaving a sigh she leaves the laundry room, steps up past the missing landing, and heads up the stairs.

The kitchen....her eyes rolled into the back of her head again. If children didn't have to eat it would eliminate most of her problems. Nothing goes in, nothing comes out. Yep, that would fix all of her problems. Heaving the normal response, to vow to redo the kitchen before bed, she puts away the current load of laundry.

"Boys!" she yells in her normal, you better be working, voice. "If that room isn't done in 20 minutes I'm bagging EVERY TOY up and putting it in the garage!" Frantic scrambling is heard for the first five seconds....and then back to playing around. They're distracted again, like normal. Mother cleans her room as she waits for the 20 minutes to pass. Then enters the boys domain to find that only a blanket has been picked up.

Without remorse, she takes the broom and begins to sweep the entire contents of their floor into a trash bag. The entire room erupts in a wail of injustice. "We didn't have enough time!" "We just got a little distracted." "Why are you being the Devil!?!" Just the normal response to mom trying to find a clean house.

She manages to convince the boys that they can keep their special stuffed animals if they finish putting the rest of the toys in the trash bag. The protest at first, but realizing that it's either this or nothing, they relent. She gives them another 20 minutes to finish and realizes it's time to prepare dinner. Dad will be home soon and everyone will need to eat. She thinks of the normal dinners, tacos, lasagna, french bread pizza. Yes, one of those will do nicely. She pulls out a pound of sausage and sets it on the table. She was going to have to sweep normal.

Time was up, again, for the boys room to be done. Mom sets dinner aside and goes in for the inspection. Much more improvement this time. And a bag full of stuff that won't be coming back into the house. Win win. The dryer signal goes off, the never ending cycle of laundry continues, dinner would have to wait a bit longer, as per the norm.

She finishes up folding and putting away the laundry just as Dad gets home. Dinner still isn't finished and the kitchen still needs to be swept again. The normal reaction was for them to retreat to the comfort of their room, so that's what they do. The kids find graham crackers and apples, looks like what Mother planned for dinner isn't going to happen, like normal.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Object lesson FHE

So we got a little silly today! I was running my fingers through some blond curly hair and started laughing. That hair was so long. So I looked at my son and told him we should put his hair in pony tails. He protested a bit, but he is always one for a laugh. I managed to get him to do the whole top of his head. Then my dare devil walked in. He thought it was really weird, and I told him he should do it too. Daddy pipped up and said, "Guys, it's going to really hurt your head after they have been in for a bit." But I managed to convince them anyway. One by one I got ALL of my boys to put pony tails in their hair. All of them thought it was a bad idea at first, but after constant prodding from me, but constant warnings from Dad, they all eventually succumbed to mother's devious desires.

Then I realized I could make an awesome lesson out of it. They were told to go clean the front room, and a few of them already wanted the rubber bands out of their hair. I told them it was part of the lesson and they would get in big trouble if they took them out. I got LOTS of protests. Once the front room had been vacuumed we gave the first obvious lesson. I told the boys I was going to take their picture and ALL of them yelled NO! in unison. We talked about making sure you get peoples permission before they take pictures and that every stupid thing that you have done, that you post on the internet, will never go away. Non of them wanted their heads to be seen like an island of palm trees. We let that little lesson sink in...and they started asking again, "can you take these things out?!"

The the real lesson began. I told them that I couldn't do it, only their Father could. Then I explained that for the purpose of this lesson, I was the Devil, and Dad was the Savior. Each rubber band in their hair represented a sin. Some of them had tried to pull the out, but they are the little rubber bands and it hurt. Then I showed them a pair of scissors and explained that Dad could get them free of sin with the atonement. But they had to ask him personally. He wouldn't do it unless they came to him.

We talked about who they had listened to. And I reminded them that daddy had said a few times, "that is going to hurt your head" and non of them listened so he stopped saying anything. A lot of them didn't want to do it. I wasn't holding any of them down. Sometimes it hurt, getting the rubber bands put in, but as long as I told them it would be funny, and they could laugh together, and I really thought they should do it, they listened.

We talked about how cunning the Devil is, that he promises lots of things, but that we need to listen to the Savior as he cautions us on what is right and what is wrong. One by one, each of the boys went to dad. He was sitting in his chair in the front room. The boys knelt in front of him and each said, "Dad, will you please take away my rubber bands?" Sometimes it hurt when they snapped and pulled hair. But each boy was relieved once their hair was finally free.

Both Daddy and I bore our testimonies about the dangers of giving into temptation, and the love the savior has as he is willing to help us remove our sins. We talked about how their head still hurt even after their hair was back to normal. No one else knew about the palm trees, but the boys could still fill their sting. We noted that repentance can be a lot like that. We still remember the sin, but it helps us to grow and not make the same mistakes.

Then we talked about listing to their earthly Father. Mike bore his testimony to each of them of how much he loved them and that he would never intentional lead them to do something wrong. And if they came to them he would do his best to help.

All in all it was a really good family home evening. I think it sunk in pretty deep with the oldest four boys. The babies were all over the place, but the oldest four listened the entire time. Afterwards we did our talents and played "Good Kitty Kitty" (daddy hates that game), and sent the kids to bed. Over all, I'm pretty proud of how well our FHE turned out.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The one where mom's a heathen.

As husband and wife, they joke together about several things. One thing that gets joked about consistently is buying food on a Sunday. Being a good Christian household, they strive to keep the sabbath holy and focused on Christ. Being parents of seven, they strive to keep their heads on their necks.

Usually after a long day of trying to keep a rag tag group of boys somewhat focused on the sabbath they lock themselves in their room with a movie to drown out the chaos of outside. Each will tease that they are going to go pick up food. Usually when one says it, the other rolls their eyes and reminds them it's Sunday. They had, on occasion, stayed up till it was 12:01 and run to taco bell for a scandalous midnight snack.

But this was the day that mom had enough. After chasing a dog out of their yard, getting rid of a dead chicken, rebuilding a pen, and chasing the chickens back into their enclosure.....both parents go into the house to find that the large Sam's Club size chocolate chips have been spattered about the kitchen, a full bottle of syrup had been dumped on top of that, 3 blankets were also muddled into the sticky mess, and crumbs dotted the entire household.

Seething from head to toes the mother looks at the father......"I'm getting three bags of burgers from Braum's" The husbands eyes become wide with shock. He knew she was serious. Oh, blasphemy never looked so hot. Not only was she willing to go get it, it was SUNDAY, and she wasn't taking no for an answer. "I'm serious, I'm going now. I'm not cooking dinner."

The husband wiggles his eyebrows, "Growl, talk dirty to me." Food coming to him without a kitchen mess is a dream come true. Junk food, on a Sunday....that's the impossible dream. The Mother gets in the large 12 passenger van, rear window still broken out and covered in painters plastic.

She pulls up to Brums, but can't help look over her shoulder to see if anyone from church is around. Silly, if someone from church is at Braums they would be hiding from her. The voice comes over the intercom asking for her order, "tell the grill guy I'm apologizing in advance." She orders three bags of burgers, at $4.74 each for a bag of 5 burgers that feeds the whole family under $20, even if you add in a large fry. What the heck, she's already going to hell, might as well go in a farrari, "Add a large chocolate shake too."

"Ok....15 burgers, a large fry, and a large chocolate shake? that'll be $22.20 at the first window." Surly the cashier was thinking these were for a birthday party. Brahms had only been their a few months....bags of burgers are so cheep, they'll figure it out after the 30th time. She pulls up to the window, "$22.20.....and you will have to pull forward, sorry, it's going to take a bit." She laughs...of course it will, she just ordered 15 burgers, they probably can't even fit more than 6 on the grill at a time.

After waiting a bit, a young woman comes out the door with a large brown paper bag holding 15 burgers, a large fry, and a giant chocolate shake in her other hand. Mother thanks her and drives home. She walks in the door unapologeticly, "DINNER!"

Vultures, they don't have children, they have vultures. It wasn't even worth it to clean off the table, she sits on her bed and turns on their newest acquired super hero movie. Mobs of boys sit down and the sweet crinkle of burger paper is heard around the room. Even after several of them had seconds, there are still questions every now and then of, "Can I have another burger?" "Is there any more?"

Mother looks around at the chaos, if anyone saw them today they would think they were hoarders. That poor house, if walls could talk, it would be crying. The rest of the night until 11:45 is spent putting children back in their beds, swatting bums, and parents locking themselves into their rooms.

Blaspheme.....she hopes her kids don't remember what day it is. The burgers were nothing but bun, patty, ketchup, and 2 pickle slices. They tasted way better than they should have. She vowed to herself that someday she would figure out this parenting thing. Someday she would be that chocolate shake....AMAZING.

The one where they found the missing chicken.

The backyard was still a disaster. Mother had finally gotten around to cutting down most of the overgrowth, but to do that she had to take down the chicken pen that was attached to the fence. The chickens were elated at their freedom. Too much so. Mom was constantly telling kids to chase the chickens back into the back yard.

The day before, all the chickens had run off. One of them didn't come back. She was hoping the poor thing had just gotten lost. But she knew it was probably dead somewhere.

On this particular day, the last 4 chickens actually stayed in the back yard. Mother was doing laundry, her favorite pastime....maybe not favorite, but most frequent pastime, when all the children began yelling. "There's a dog in the yard!!" Mom ran out faster than you could say dead chicken.

She began yelling and chasing the dog and waving her arms. She had spent so much time with the stupid chickens she started acting like one. No matter her distaste for stepping in their droppings, she wasn't about to let a dumb dog kill of another one of her live stock.

The dog dropped the hen and began chasing another. "CHARLIE!!!!" It was the neighbors dog. "You get out of here!" She ran out the gate. Why did that woman ever bother with animals. It's not that she hated them....yes actually it is.

Mother hated dealing with animals. "I already have to clean up kid messes, why do I need more messes to deal with!" She had bought the chickens in the hopes that the fresh eggs would help the diet of the three of her children with eczema. The eggs were good but she always contemplated killing off the birds in the winter when they weren't laying. The only reason she hadn't is cause she would have to pluck them and gut them. She wasn't was just more work than changing water and filling the feed bowl every day.

Once the dog was out the gate she began looking for the hiding chickens. She checked over the back fence....right on her neighbors back porch was a dead chicken. But this was the missing one from yeasterday. It's neck was broken and it's bum was chewed clean off. Luckily no one lived in that house. That would have been unpleasant to step on in the morning. She took the shovel and hopped over the fence. The poor chicken was so scared it laid an egg right before it died. She thought that was just a cartoon thing. Guess not.

She picked up the egg and it's shell was more like a water ballon than an egg. She was surprised it didn't crack. She hucked the egg in the dumpster, then the dead chicken. Well, that's a waste of meat.

After checking the remaining chickens for damages, and finding nothing was awry, she took to the street to find the dog. "Dear, we need to get this pen up before we can deal with that dog." Her husband said. Even still, she knew Charlie was a big part of her neighbors life. She sent the kids on their bikes to try and track the dog down. "We have already had child services called on us for letting our kids ride around the neighborhood. We need to bring them home. " As usual her husband was right. She called home her children and got in the car to look around the neighborhood.

For someone who hates animals she sure has a bleeding heart.

The one where the baby falls out of bed

Thunk, small cries of a two year old echo down the hallway.
"Oh no, she fell out of bed"
"Wha?" Says Dad sleepily. Mom pats his shoulder lovingly and tells him to go back to sleep. She walks into the little kid room to find the baby crying on the hardwood floor. Scooping her up she comforts the sad baby. Nothing is hurt she just needs to be held. After taking her potty she hands the baby over to Daddy, who has now woken up enough to hold his baby. He can sleep through a lot of things but not little girl sobs.

 There is stirring down the hallway as another child gets up to pee. Mom looks out her doorway in time to see the silhouette of a child walking down the hallway. His head is drooping and she wonders if he is upset. Before she calls out to him he slowly walks until his head smacks into the door frame.

Well...that was unexpected. Maybe he just put his head there because he was upset. Children had been known to rest their heads on the walls when they needed a moment, but then he began to move again. Chin still dropped to his chest and slowly turning back and forth as he walked. Dad was fully aware of the situation by now as he and mom began to snicker. "I don't think he is awake," dad says, "he's sleep walking"

The oldest slowly makes his way around the foot of the bed and comes to a stop on moms side. Bending himself in half, he face plants into moms tummy. The giggles have almost consumed Mother. She begins to stroke his hair to wake up theirs oldest child. After calling him by name a few times she manages to wake him. He lifts his head, "hi buddy," says mom, "how'd you get here?"
The boy looks perplexed. Why was his mother in his bed and he next to it. "You were sleepwalking. Do you need to use the bathroom before you go to bed?"

It finally hits him. He shakes his head no, and even in the dark mom can tell that his face is beat red. 10 year olds don't just wander around the house looking for their mom in the middle of the night. He shakes his head as if to try and wake himself up more. Mom calls out goodnight and he gives a cool two finger wave as he saunters back to bed, trying to regain some of his 10 year old cool. The baby stirs then wiggles from snuggling dad, to mom.

Mom turns her head to dad snickering uncontrollably. " can't fake that!"

Friday, September 30, 2016

The day where they get ANOTHER trampoline

Back yard is a funny term, theirs was more like a cross between a jungle and a landfill. The swing set had finally broken that year, and their third trampoline within 5 years had busted, leaving only the empty frame and a large matt strewn about the yard. A large wooden rectangle, standing on its end, was used as the hen house. The mother had tried to move it to a different spot, but the structure was so large and heavy she had only managed to turn it slightly.

Remnants of a wire chicken pen lay just beyond that. None of the wire matched and it was a hodgepodge of scrap wood and wire fence pieces they had collected. Not that it mattered, the chickens always escaped anyway. Poor chickens, there were 5 of them. The children loved those poor things to death. They always brought out food in mom's good kitchen containers....and left them about the yard. A once good teflon pot now scratched from chicken beaks, a glass plate that had, surprisingly, not been broken, cups of every assorted shape and size, and a few, now broken, plastic bowls shining with morning dew.

"Grandpa is HERE!" shout the chorus of children.

"Hi guys! Ready to set up your trampoline?!"

Shouts of 'Sweet!' 'woo hoo!' and 'Alright!!!' ring through the air.

Excitedly they all run outside in their shorts...only to run quickly back in the house complaining of the 'freezing' weather. It was 65 degrees outside. Grandpa laughs and he and their mother begin moving large metal pieces to the back yard. Eventually one or two kids come out to help, but mostly they watch from the windows to keep warm.

"Thank you Daddy, the kids are so excited."

"I'll come back after work and help you set it up this evening"

"Oh, I'm sure the kids will have it done by then." She kisses her father goodbye and returns to the house. The kids are already huddled under a mountain of blankets already watching a cartoon. She wonders if it would be better to let them watch the movie this morning while she gets the kitchen clean, or if she should make them come into the kitchen and clean it. That would take three times longer than doing it herself. Movie wins, sometimes you just have to turn your children off.

The rest of the morning unfolds normally, a few wet pants and a small pile of bread crumbs in the floor. The mom would have loved to get the trampoline set up, but one child was sick and needing to be held. Another child saw the attention and decided they needed mom too. Oh well, holding children isn't a waste of time, they just won't have a trampoline today.

After lunch their Dad comes home from work early. The two little girls excitedly rush to his arms. "How are my beautiful girlies!" They squeeze him affectionately and smother him in kisses. While holding the little ones he leans in and kisses his wife. "Yeah, everyone else went home early, I figured I'll just finish up work from my computer." His wife explains that she has been trying to go outside and put up the trampoline. "Well, how about I spend some time with my little kids and you can help the big boys set up the trampoline."

They begin working, the trampoline was the one her parents had in their yard. Her parents are moving  out to the country and offered their fort and trampoline to the family of 9. The children held up one of the legs while Mom tried to get a piece to match each of the poles on the leg. After a few attempts they figured out the pattern and within 20 minutes they had the whole thing set up.

Now, time to work on that chicken pen.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Day Child Services Came

The young woman stops her car in front of what looks to be a war zone. Used bricks are piled on the front porch and beside it. The bench of a van is sitting next to a broken recliner.....which sits behind a broken washing machine. All crammed on a tiny porch. Bikes are strewn everywhere as she walks up to the house. Kids began to run in and out. Mostly boys with shorts and messy hair, and a very young girl in just her underpants.

"Hi! What are you doing?" asks the child with a dirt smudge over his eye.

"Is your mommy home?" She politely asks?


"Some LADY is here to see you!" says a chorus of voices all at once.

Two chickens walk past and poop on the porch.

"I'm coming! Just a sec." says a voice down the hallway. The front door is left wide open. Toys and clothes, some folded....some wet, litter the hallways from what the young woman can see. "I told you guys we can't play with neighbors today. I'm too....Oh hi." The mom steps out of the hallway and sees the young lady with the clipboard. 'oh dear,' she thinks, 'Another solicitor. I already bought that vacuum when we didn't have the money for it.' "What can I help you with?" she asks.

"Hi, I'm Linda, from child protective services"

"Oh," the mother says unexpectedly but not too surprised. "What can I do for you?"

"We had a grievance call about unsupervised children in the home."

Linda looks as if she has just graduated high school. Trendy boots, and a soft pink scarf around her neck. The mother has a wad of wire in her hands, a old 5k shirt on, and worn jeans. Reluctantly she invites Linda in. Child services hu? Linda only looked old enough to be selling candy bars to earn money for a school trip. The mother kicks aside a few toys and welcomes Linda in the front room, while stepping over mountains of legos. Mismatched couches are pushed into each corner crowding the already tiny room. Linda sits on the one chair without laundry on it.

"As you know I am here because a concerned party thought children weren't being supervised. Here is a copy of your rights as a parent, and if you would just sign this form that says I have given you that information." Linda pauses, and looks around, "How many children do you have?"

"7" the mother replies. Linda's eyes become the size of saucers. "I don't know why someone would have complained. I mean, the older ones are aloud to ride their bikes in the street, but the little ones shouldn't be in front without me. Sometimes I'm doing dishes or laundry and they make their way outside to play with their older brothers, but I'm never busy for more than a few minutes before I go check on them." she pauses, "isn't that normal? Letting your kids ride their bikes on the street?" Linda nods in agreement. The mother looks perplexed. Which neighbor would have called? They know almost everyone on the street. Though there is that one older lady who has yelled at her kids a few times for being in the road when the trash truck was coming.

"Do you mind if we take a walk through the house. I'd like to see where the children sleep." The mother hoped Linda wouldn't ask that. Its the middle of the day and she hadn't been doing any household chores. In her mind she weighed the option of telling her no. Inevitably she was going to see the house. Telling Linda, no, would just mean there was something to hide. Nope, up front and honest is always the best way to go.

"Alright," the mother says, "We are in the middle of construction in the basement, need to go potty.......let me show you upstairs." The little girl in the underwear races to the bathroom and stops short of the door stripping her underwear off before entering. "This is the kitchen, sorry, I've been working on the car today so breakfast hasn't been cleaned up."

It looks as if a cereal blizzard has blown through the kitchen. Half eaten bowls of cereal are on the table, and benches, and spilled on the floor. A large appliance is in the middle of the room. "Again, sorry, we only have a portable dishwasher so we have to hook it up to the sink." The mother moves the dishwasher only to wish she hadn't. Two mashed and brown bananas lay underneath it, smearing when she wheeled it aside. It's too late to put it back in the middle of the room. The mother pushes the dishwasher to the wall and grabs a partially used paper towel off the table to wipe up the mess. Grateful she had done dishes last night. The counters were clear, but after finishing the pots she had decided to go to bed an finish up in the morning. Oh how she lamented that decision today. The little girl comes streaking out of the bathroom with a large smile on her face telling her mother that she "did it." "Oh!" the mother cringes, "Thats great sweety but you need to put your pannies on BEFORE you come out of the bathroom." she helps her daughter regain some small form of modesty and returns the underpants to the child. "Sorry....potty training" can someone so young be in charge of the fate of a veteran mother of 7. Hopefully she is understanding. Time to move down the hallway. A mop lay across the floor. They pass the bathroom where a paint can and a gaggle of used painting supplies are sitting on the counter. "Did you just paint your bathroom?" Linda asks.

"Yes, I just got the second coat on yesterday." Linda peeks in the bathroom. Wet towels are on the floor and bits of paper are scattered about. Children are running back and forth through the house as they pass their mother and Linda.

Room by cluttered room they peak their heads in. There are only three rooms upstairs two beds each in two of the rooms. Both with hardly any of the floor visible. The parents room is also small and covered in laundry. The mother explains that at night two of the boys sleep in the front room, and both the girls, since they are little share a bed. "Its only temporary until we get the leak in the basement fixed."

"MMMMOOOOMM! The chickens are down the street again!"

"Just get some food and call them in the back yard, they'll come back. Come on, let me show you the basement." The make their way down the stairs. the landing is missing and only concrete is beneath the stairs. Linda takes the large step down. The laundry room is down stairs. At least three wide baskets are haphazardly stacked with laundry and 4 more full baskets litter the floor. Construction was obvious. These people needed a bit of help. Water had seeped in through a crack in the wall rendering the basement useless to the large family until it could be fixed.

Linda found out that the family had been working on the basement for months, they just had to take it slow for financial reasons. The husband was his own boss and was still trying to get his business off the ground. Work hours were long and finances were low. But in his few spare moments he was down in the basement doing everything he could to make a few more rooms for his children. Children began to climb down the open stair case to inspect the adults. "Oh no," the mother grabs the 4 year old, "you know this is off limits. Out, out!"

The make their way back to the lego infested living room. "I think this is a pretty closed case," Linda says smiling, "I'll just need the names and ages of your family members and I can close the case file. I can tell you are busy, but I don't have any concerns about your children." She smiles sweetly and they sit down to finish up the paperwork. "Call me if you need anything. My number is on the paperwork I have given you." She gets back into her car that is parked on the street as the kids file outside to grab their scooters. Linda drives off.

"Guys, I need that piece of wire that was in my hand. Anyone know where it is?" The children all shrug and go about there mischief. Trying not to let the whole visit get to her, the mother finds a different pieces of wire to finish tying off a new horn switch to the dashboard of their old car. She finishes the job and proudly walks back towards the house....stepping in chicken poop on the porch.